By Billingsley's count, not one Hollywood film has ever showed the Ukraine famine, the Moscow show trials or the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet military. Both the epic drama of Prague Spring and the Soviet-backed crackdown on Poland's Solidarity movement are backdrops for just one film apiece: the former in a short sequence in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and the latter in "To Kill a Priest," which, as Billingsley points out, "failed to detail the politics involved." As screenwriter and Communist Party official Dalton Trumbo bragged in a 1946 article for "The Worker," major anti-Communist books of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" (literally verboten to Hollywood Communists, as ex-communist director Edward Dmytryk revealed), Victor Kravchenko's "I Chose Freedom," and Trotsky's biography of Stalin, never made it to the screen. How could they? As Billingsley reports, story analysts and talent agents working for the Communist Party were perfectly placed to block the progress of such anti-Communist material.
One result is that the Cold War experience has never been blended into our cultural narrative. Lore-less, it remains politics alone, a not-fully-incorporated appendage of our history. Meanwhile, having to some large extent robbed us of the cultural legacy of that mighty global struggle, Hollywood communists left only the spiritually stunting cult of what has become known as political correctness in its place.
In the end, it was this coercive political orthodoxy -- lockstep, collectivist "liberalism" that brooked no dissent -- that drove ex-Communists such as Kazan to break silence, earning him the eternal enmity of the anti-anti-Communists. Which is something to ponder in our own time, as a gathering movement of anti-antiterrorism builds. In his new book, "Onward Muslim Soldiers" (Regnery), Robert Spencer highlights an undeniable parallel between yesterday's anti-anti-Communism and today's anti-antiterrorism: both movements see in the United States the chief villain of the world. And "just as twentieth-century leftists prostrated themselves before the progressive' Soviet Union and its satellites, so too does the twenty-first century Left prefer Islam -- with its presumed, romanticized history of 'tolerance,' despite all evidence to the contrary -- to the West," he writes.
"Just as the Left was anti-anticommunist, so too then are they anti-antiterrorist."
This is not to suggest how Elia Kazan -- who, by the way, never voted for Ronald Reagan -- would have come down on the war on Islamic terrorism. Still, this Constantinople-born son of a Greek rug dealer well understood the differences between Islam and the West. His favorite among his own movies, "America, America," is about a Greek Christian boy's near-endless struggle to leave behind the repression of Ottoman (Islamic) Turkey for freedom in the United States.
Elia Kazan, R.I.P.